Sunday, March 22, 2009

Salami…Ken’s favorite breakfast sausage

After a week of virtually no cooking while supporting my friend Viv at OHSU hospital in Portland, Oregon, it was time to get back to my passion. Where to start? A look in the fridge and freezer revealed my husband, Ken, was almost out of salami. Horror of horrors!

I first started making salami as a test of whether I could do it. A lot of our favorite recipes start that way. I’ll try something just to see if I can do it, and if I can is it worth doing? I’m a big believer in being self-sufficient and reducing my reliance on stores. Part of this started when I was a kid when we didn’t have all the processed foods we have now, part was also because my mother was a pretty lousy cook. But two other reasons are living in Alaska and cruising on our sailboat! I lived in Alaska for a total of 23 years, and Ken and I sailed on our sailboat from San Diego, California, to and through the Panama Canal. Both of these lifestyles required us to be self-reliant.

In Haines, Alaska, I learned mostly by self-teaching and a few books, how to preserve foods. My former husband, Jim and I used to hunt and fish as well. I raised a garden that was 33 ft by 55 feet. I also hunted and fished. When Jim and I were out bear hunting one day he shot two bears. After he skinned them and gave me the meat, I rendered up the bear fat, canned the bear ribs and processed the haunches like hams. I caught and smoked salmon and Dolly Varden trout. OK, before I hear from Jim, I will ‘fess up that I also burned my smokehouse down when I left it unattended, while dispatching for the Haines fire department. LOL.

While cruising with Ken, we caught many fish, bought fresh produce and fruit, as well as chickens and meats from the local farmers markets all down the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central America. We traded tee-shirts for fish with local fishermen, traded zucchini and banana bread for wonderful big fresh coconuts.

These days I no longer hunt, instead I buy chickens and meats from local stores. Fishing is something I just haven’t delved into here in Pennsylvania. Frankly, if I want good fish, I wait until Sam’s or Costco brings in fresh salmon and halibut from Alaska or the Pacific Northwest, but I do buy lots of frozen wild cod, haddock and flounder. In Baltimore I will always order fresh fish when eating out.

I began making salami when I found a salami making “kit” at one of the local hunting stores, Gander Mountain I think. I bought a man-made casing for the first batch, but found them too difficult to fill and handle. Now I just use parchment paper to wrap the salami logs in. After about the sixth batch of salami I stopped buying the boxed ingredients and started mixing my own spices, bought curing salt in the two-pound bag at Wal-Mart, and developed a great recipe. Interestingly enough, my neighbor Wanetta shared her mother’s Salami recipe from the “back on the farm days” and it was almost exactly the same recipe.

Now that I have this recipe down to a fine science, I don’t mess with it, because Ken loves it so much. But I have tried other variations that I make for me. I’ve also shared this recipe with several friends and they’ve had great success with their own versions of it. I will say this right up front…we don’t eat pork, so I have only made the recipe with ground beef, usually 90% lean. So here goes…


Prep time is about 15 minutes; cooking time is 1 hour, the day after you mix the ingredients.

2 ½ pounds ground beef (90% lean)
¾ tsp dried 6-pepper flakes (I often make my own by saving seeds from jalapenos and other chilies)
½ tsp yellow mustard seeds (no mustard seeds in the house? Try some gourmet mustard)
½ tsp peppercorns
1 tsp dehydrated minced garlic (or garlic powder)
3 Tblsp curing salt
1 Tblsp sugar (or honey, maple syrup, etc)
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp dried minced onion

Have ready 4 pieces of parchment paper about 14 inches long.

Grind the pepper flakes, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and minced garlic using a mortar and pestle. Don’t be worried about leaving one or two mustard seeds or peppercorns whole. Set aside.

Put the ground beef in a mixing bowl, dump the spices on top with the curing salt and sugar (and other options) and mix until thoroughly blended. I do this with my kitchen aid, but you can do it by hand also.

Lay out 4 pieces of parchment paper. Wet your hands and gather about ¾ pound of the ground beef and spices mixture. Form into a log while in your hands, squeezing out all air holes. Lay on a piece of parchment paper.

Pull one end up and over and roll up as you would when making refrigerator cookies into a log. Twist both ends and set into a 9 inch by 12 inch pan. Continue with the next log, until all the ground beef mixture is formed into logs.

Put in the refrigerator over night.

The next morning, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Have out a broiler pan, or an oven safe cooling rack (like you use for cooling cookies). I spray mine with Pam first. Unwrap each log and place on the cooling rack or broiler pan, leaving air space between each log. Put the pan in the oven and cook for an hour.

After the hour is up remove the pan from the oven and let set to cool. If you have one log that is bigger than the others, you may want to put it back in the oven and cook it for another 5-10 minutes.

I love to taste the salami about 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven. It’s still hot and fresh and has a wonderful spicy aroma, a great mouth-feel, and the meat and spices blend very well on the tongue!

Once thoroughly cooled I wrap each log individually in paper towel and then put several at a time into a vacuum seal bag, seal them and put them in the freezer. We take one out at a time, put in the cold cuts drawer of the refrigerator and slice off what we need, as we need it. Wrapping it in the paper towel allows it dry out as you use it and gives it a delicious texture, but its wonderful fresh as well.

Salami after it has dried out when wrapped in paper towel.

If you have any questions, let me know. Also please let me know how your version comes out, and what variations you do.

No comments:

Post a Comment